Commentary

Neuqua Valley is the talk of the town

Updated: August 21, 2009, 3:09 PM ET
By Joe Trost | Special to ESPNRISE.com

When it comes to boys' soccer in Illinois this fall, all the talk centers around Neuqua Valley (Naperville).

Led by Marquette-bound Bryan Ciesiulka, the Wildcats are heads and tails above every other squad in one of the nation's most competitive states. First-year Neuqua Valley head coach Tony Kees returns to the high school sidelines after spending two years with the Chicago Fire Academy. Previously, he was the head coach at Conant High School, which is located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

A little controversy has surrounded Kees and the Wildcats due to a late summer transfer of Keegan Balle, one of Kees' players from the Chicago Fire Academy. The 5-foot-11 defender played for Lincoln-Way Central (New Lenox) last year.

According to Lincoln-Way Central principal Steve Provis, Balle withdrew from the school this summer, which also was the same time Kees was named the new head coach at Neuqua Valley. Balle informed Lincoln-Way Central coach Dan Radz of his move via e-mail a day before practice began.

Illinois High School Association assistant executive director Beth Sauser said she has yet to see any paperwork regarding the transfer.

In an e-mail, Neuqua Valley principal Robert McBride added that "Keegan Balle is enrolled at Neuqua Valley High School. He has met all the residency requirements of Indian Prairie School District 204 and the protocols of the IHSA for such transfers. The principal at Lincoln Way High School signed an IHSA 'principal's concurrence' on his transfer."

After Neuqua Valley, the rest of the Illinois landscape is pretty even -- Lake Zurich, New Trier, Naperville Central, Naperville North and Peoria Notre Dame.

Illinois Teams to Watch

1. Neuqua Valley - Marquette-bound Bryan Ciesiulka is the leader
2. Lake Zurich - Nick Janus is one of the state's best
3. New Trier - Strong midfield should benefit Ben Beaver uptop
4. Naperville Central - Chris Prince and Art Garza will be a force
5. Peoria Notre Dame - Will be tested at Mid-State Classic

Illinois Players to Watch

Position: Name, School, Grade, College Commitment (if applicable)
GK: Derek Babb, Wheaton South, Sr.
D: Keegan Balle, Neuqua Valley, Sr., Bradley
MF: Chris Boswell, Naperville North, Sr.
MF: Jacob Bushue, Centennial, Sr., Indiana
D: Cody Bussic, Loyola, Jr.
MF: Bryan Ciesiulka, Neuqua Valley, Sr., Marquette
F: Marco Guttierrez, St. Joseph, Sr.
F: Nick Janus, Lake Zurich, Sr.;
GK: Kent Kobernus, Belleville West, Saint Louis
D: Billy McGuinness, Lyons, Sr.
GK: Dave Mulac, Sandburg, Sr.
MF: Luis Ortega, West Chicago, Sr.
F: Alex Perez, Streamwood, Sr.
MF: Chris Prince, Naperville Central, Sr., Wisconsin
GK: Tom Serratore, Andrew, Sr.
MF: Harry Shipp, Lake Forest, Sr.
GK: Jack Turanchik, Neuqua Valley, Sr.
F: Trevor Wheeler, St. Viator, Sr., Wisconsin